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17th September 2010, 1:26pm
University lends its voice to launch Lincoln Speakers' Corner
Tony Benn opens Speakers Corner in Lincoln The University of Lincoln has helped launch a new public platform for people to air their views on the issues that matter to them.

Legendary politician Tony Benn was the special guest as the city’s new Speakers’ Corner was officially launched at Cornhill, off Lincoln High Street, on Thursday 16 September.

Speakers' Corner is a place where amateur orators can voice their opinions on topics important to them – whether that's international politics or a favourite pastime. The aim is promote freedom of speech, public debate and active citizenship.

Staff and students from the University of Lincoln have been closely involved in the development of the project in Lincoln over the past year, working alongside the Speakers' Corner Trust. The City of Lincoln Council has supported the project and provided a sign to mark the spot.

The University's involvement in the Lincoln Speakers' Corner began through a research project run by the Lincoln Business School. The Lincolnshire Take Part Pathfinder Programme is a partnership between the Lincolnshire Assembly and the University which aims to improve citizens' skills, knowledge and confidence to enable them to get more involved in local activities, politics and decision-making.

Lincoln students were among the first to get on their soapbox when Speakers' Corner was piloted in the city earlier this year. They were also in the thick of the action as the official spot was inaugurated this week: Journalism graduate Dom McAndrew had the tough task of following Tony Benn’s opening oration.

Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek, Senior Research Fellow in the University's Lincoln Business School, is leading the Take Part programme.

She said: "Freedom of speech and the ability to influence the decision-making process are vital to democracy. It's very important that citizens feel able to speak openly and act together and this project gives Lincoln people an opportunity to do that. To have Tony Benn open Speakers' Corner is fantastic for the project and for the City of Lincoln. He’s a very significant figure and a great public speaker."

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